The Antiquarium Comunale di Cesenatico is located inside the Palazzo degli Anziani, next to the Museo della Marineria. It can be accessed from the same entrance and with the same admission ticket. The Antiquarium displays historical artifacts from the city, in particular from the Roman era, supplemented by thorough documentation. The precise location of Roman Cesenatico is not known; indeed recent research and archeological excavations have revealed the presence of numerous settlements of rustic villas in various places in the area. Given the advancing of the coastline and the littoral conditions of that era, characterized by sand dunes and large swampy areas, it is highly unlikely that stable settlements were founded near the shore, in contrast to what we observe today. The Tabula Peutingeriana, a 15th-century map copied from an ancient Roman original, shows a village called Ad Novas, roughly half way between Ariminum (Rimini) and Ravenna, which we may rightly suspect to be the true “ancestor” of Cesenatico. The location was probably a mansio, an inn where travelers could stop and change horses, situated, as we have indicated, inland from the coastline. In any case, scholars assert the probable existence of either a port or more likely a landing, used as a refuge as well as a docking station for the numerous Roman transport ships that sailed along the coast. These ships brought supplies to the hinterland, which all ancient sources describe as highly developed economically and actively involved in commerce. In addition to the rustic villas mentioned above, in the hinterland around Cesenatico, specifically in the locality of Ca’ Turchi, a large kiln was active for a significant period of time, as evidenced by the many holdings of the Antiquarium pertaining to its activity. The kiln’s production was evidently quite vast, as it probably had to also supply relatively far-off places. The kiln also produced the two artifacts of great artistic importance held by the Antiquarium: these are two fragmented statues, one of a youth, the other of an old man, which recent research claims to be part of a single group representing Daedalus in the act of producing the wings for Icarus. In addition to the artifacts from the Roman kiln, numerous finds from archeological excavations carried out in various other locations of the hinterland are on display. Most of these are common objects, providing us with a concrete image of various aspects and moments of daily life of the ancient inhabitants of this area: we can picture their houses from the roof tiles and the characteristic “manubrial” bricks (that is, with handles to facilitate their transport), stamped with the seal of the manufacturer; their flooring, from the rustic but elegant tiles arranged in a herring-bone pattern and set in marble; their burial practices, from the reconstruction of a “Capuchin” tomb using original materials; and, finally, their religious practices, from the marble statuette of Dionysus, whose mysterious charm is perhaps enhanced by its small and worn condition, reminding us of its connection with representations of ancient pagan divinities. The Antiquarium’s collection of Roman artifacts is rounded off by an exhibit of coins from the era as well as a well-documented display of photographs and maps pertaining to the hypothesis of the local road network in Roman times, a topic of contentious debate among scholars, in particular with reference to the location of the ancient coastal road Via Popilia. The Antiquarium also hold an interesting supplementary exhibit from a more modern era: this is the so-called “little treasure,” the collection of coins from the 16th and 17th centuries found by chance during the digs around Porto Canale. We don’t know how or why these coins, which must have been of great value in that era, found their way to the sea. One suggestion is that they were on a ship that sank in the port (although there is no reference to such an event in the archives). Another possibility is that they were intentionally thrown into the water by a captain to keep them away from Turkish or Uskok pirates, who frequently raided the area, without, however, finding the chance to recover them later.
Summer opening hours: every day from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.